Saturday's first A-Main at Linda's was contested by the winged 600cc Micro Sprints. A stellar 57-car field entered the 600cc National Open, and 30 of them made it to the 40 lap headliner, with Path Valley kingpin Garrett Bard, from Wells Tannery, Pa., claiming a close victory over Tyler Brehm.
Linda's 2017 point champ Tommy Kunsman set the early pace over Bard as pole sitter Brehm fell back to third. On a restart with three tours in the books, Bard ducked under Kunsman in turn two and blasted onto the backstretch with the race lead.
Bard then set sail, opening up a commanding lead as Kunsman and Brehm tussled for the runner-up position. When the leader caught the back of the field, though, his torrid pace was slowed as he dealt with heavy traffic. Kunsman and Brehm raced up to Bard's tail tank, with Kunsman nipping at the leader's heels. On lap 20, Brehm charged to the low side of Kunsman and both drivers shoved their cars under Bard in turns one and two. Bard was able to roar off the corner and hold the top spot as Brehm took over second place. A yellow flag, for a slowing Tim Buckwalter, halted the action with 21 circuits complete.
On the restart, Bard, Brehm, Kunsman, and fourth-place Kyle Spence ran nose-to-tail before Brehm threw a slide job on the leader in turns one and two. Bard went back under Brehm and back to the lead and the nip/tuck battle for the lead continued until another caution, with six to go, allowed everyone to catch their breath.
The final revolutions found Brehm repeatedly trying to get a run on the high side and use the momentum to dive under Bard. But Bard knew he had to protect the bottom, and he did just that, taking away Brehm's line as they exited the corners.
Bard held off one final assault from Brehm on the final sprint to the finish line, beating the No. 21R to the stripe by a scant 0.128-seconds. Kunsman fended off the challenges of Spence to wind up third ahead of Spence and Kameron Morral, who earned the Hard Charger Award after starting 17th and ending up fifth.
"We went with a soft tire, which was the wrong choice," said a relieved Bard after the race. "I was really happy to see that yellow with six to go because I was just hanging on at that point. Tyler ran such a hard and clean race; I just protected the bottom at the end and it worked out."
Bard's victory was also worth $3,000 as he gained redemption after a near-miss in last year's National Open at Linda's Speedway.